Edinburgh-based financial services group Standard Life is buying a software firm for £42m to help develop its insurance offerings to customers and intermediaries.
The move demonstrates the growing reliance of major finance firms on their technology and is the latest in an emerging trend that saw London Stock Exchange buy one of its key software suppliers, Sri Lankan trading exchange developer MilleniumIT, for £25m in October 2009.
Standard Life is acquiring Focus Solutions, a provider of sales automation solutions that work across multiple financial services distribution channels.
"Focus Solutions' technology enables us to offer a market-leading customer experience, built on a full set of supporting processes and technologies to distributors, alongside our traditional product and investment offerings," said Standard Life CEO David Nish.
"This strengthens the overall position of the group as the UK market for our propositions and services develops further over the next two years. These solutions will also help to grow our retail bank and direct-to-customer distribution."
In an interview with Computer Weekly earlier this year, Standard Life IT and operations director Christian Torkington said the firm was planning to spend £200m to market its retail propositions, and emphasised the vital role that IT and technology innovation would play.
"I want us to be an early adopter in the R&D space," he said.
"It is essential to keep our thinking around the business operations and the customer services organisation and use technology to help us achieve our goals of automation, efficiency and customer satisfaction."